The history of Alum chine and Argyll gardens
A chine is a steep-sided dry river valley. Alum Chine is the largest of the four chines in Bournemouth.
Alum Chine got its name from the alum mining which took place locally in the 16th century. Alum is a fixative that was used in dyeing, tanning and painting. The mines eventually became uneconomical and closed in the mid-17th century.
The area was bought by William Dean in 1805. At the time, local fishermen were using the bay-side area to store their boats and equipment.
The tropical gardens were laid out in the 1920s, but by the 1990s they had become overrun. In 1996 the gardens were replanted, and a paved viewing area added as part of the Gardens of Excellence scheme.
Alum chine bridges
Three bridges cross the chine, the first being a suspension bridge built in 1903. The second bridge is a spandrel or arched bridge and was built in 1922 to replace an existing bridge, which Winston Churchill fell off while playing there as a boy in 1892. The third bridge is a beam and post bridge and was built in 1924.
The gardens were originally planted in 1903 and included a public convenience, bowling green and croquet lawn. The site was transferred to us in 1919.
The popularity of tennis at the time saw a pavilion replace the croquet lawn in 1931. This was replaced by a bowling green in 1980 when a new pavilion was built elsewhere on the site.